And when to look for it.
Here’s a bit of a trick when it comes to birdwatching—birds typically follow patterns. Now, these patterns can be something as broad as a similar migration path season to season, or a handful of birds claiming a backyard as their territory. Because of that, you can expect to see certain birds at certain places at certain times. In other words, knowing what birds to expect where and when is huge. In practice this means that if you see a bird that can’t ID and think that it is super rare—it’s probably not the super rare bird, especially if it’s out of season.
This is a blue-headed vireo.
Now, let’s take a look at their migration pattern.
Here we have a map of the abundance of the blue-headed vireo throughout the year—which also serves as a sort of migration map for the lil muffin. As you can see they winter in the south and summer in the north, like a lot of migrating birds. What that means for us is that if you’re in East Texas in August and you think you see a blue-headed vireo, it’s worth a double check. Now, it’s not impossible, but it is unlikely.
To chalk one up for the (close to) impossible, here’s my run in with a Tennessee Warbler, a cute lil muffin of a quick darter.
Now, just for the record, here is the abundance map for the tenn warbler when I saw it in mid-January.
So, as we can see, that lil blur of beak and feathers wasn’t really supposed to be anywhere near Atlanta, GA. But that’s birds for ya.
If we think about this idea removed from birdwatching, I think the best way of describing this is context. As a writer, and especially a writer working in marketing, context is vital. In terms of creating any sort of work, I need to know what it’s about, where it’s going to be placed, and who is mostly likely to read it. So it matters if it’s a case study or email. It matters if it needs to be for tech-minded folks or for a more general audience. All of that information influences what I do.
So, certainly knowing what to look for and when to look for is important. But, just like my Tennessee Warbler, being open to the occasional surprise never hurt anyone either.